By Phillip Brian Harper
In an enormous reassessment of African American tradition, Phillip Brian Harper intervenes within the ongoing debate concerning the “proper” depiction of black humans. He advocates for African American aesthetic abstractionism—a representational mode wherein an art, instead of striving for realist verisimilitude, vigorously asserts its primarily man made personality. retaining that realist illustration reaffirms the very social proof that it will possibly were understood to problem, Harper contends that abstractionism indicates up the particular constructedness of these evidence, thereby subjecting them to severe scrutiny and making them amenable to transformation.
Arguing opposed to the necessity for “positive” representations, Abstractionist Aesthetics displaces realism because the basic mode of African American representational aesthetics, re-centers literature as a important web site of African American cultural politics, and elevates experimental prose in the area of African American literature. Drawing on examples throughout various creative construction, together with the visible paintings of Fred Wilson and Kara Walker, the tune of Billie vacation and Cecil Taylor, and the prose and verse writings of Ntozake Shange, Alice Walker, and John Keene, this e-book poses pressing questions about how racial blackness is made to imagine yes social meanings. within the method, African American aesthetics are upended, rendering abstractionism because the strongest modality for Black illustration.
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Copyright © 2015 Vanessa Beecroft. Reproduced by permission of the artist. men, black dress shoes—and this is to say nothing of the SEALs’ own persons, with their invariably rather dark head or facial hair, shadowed if not categorically brown eyes, and generally ruddy but occasionally downright swarthy exposed skin (indeed, two of the men seem to diverge from phenotypical whiteness entirely; see fig. 19). S. te. Photograph by Todd Eberle. Copyright © 2015 Vanessa Beecroft. Reproduced by permission of the artist.
Considered from this perspective, such “totally blonde” runway shows as have been mounted by Gucci and Prada do not void their participants of 52 ||| Black Personhood in the Maw of Abstraction individual “identity” so much as they sublimate that identity to a hegemonic principle that is the source of those participants’ own enhanced social currency. S. mass culture as a whole, relative to the white population whose racial image is ubiquitous within it—conceiving that image as so perfectly generic (and, indeed, so generically perfect) as to comprise absolutely everyone’s aspirational objective.
72 Completely disregarding any extracompositional meaning that the performers’ bodies might register, and attending instead to each performance’s descent from regimented order into random chaos, these statements clearly constitute an attempt by Beecroft to frame her works as purely formal events, thereby recalling Ford’s characterization of Gucci’s and Prada’s all-white runway-show casts as mere—politically innocent—aesthetic constructs. dr. Photograph by Dusan Reljin. Copyright © 2015 Vanessa Beecroft.
Abstractionist Aesthetics: Artistic Form and Social Critique in African American Culture by Phillip Brian Harper